The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development said today that new housing starts were down in April by 16.5 percent compared to March.  Construction began on privately owned residential units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 compared to the revised March estimate of 1,021,000.  The original March figure was estimated at 1,036,000 units.  April starts were 13.1 percent higher than a year earlier when construction was started on 754,000 units. 

Single-family construction was begun at a rate of 610,000 units, down 2.1 percent from the March rate of 623,000.  Starts in buildings with five or more units was down 38.9 percent to a rate of 234,000 units compared to 376,000 in March.

Housing Starts

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Residential construction permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,017,000 units.  This is an increase of 14.3 percent compared to the downwardly revised (from 902,000) March rate of 890,000 units.  The April rate was 35.8 percent higher than that of April 2012 when the estimate was 749,000 units.

Single-family permits were at a rate of 617,000 compared to the March figure of 599,000 (originally estimated at 595,000), an increase of 3.0 percent.  In April 2012 the rate was 484,000.  Permits for units in buildings with five or more were issued at an annual rate of 374,000 in April compared to 266,000 in March.

Building Permits

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Construction was completed on privately owned residential units at a rate of 689,000 in April, down 14.3 percent from March's figure of 804,000 which was revised up from an original estimate of 800,000.  Single-family homes were competed at a rate of 536,000 compared to 594,000 in March (-9.8 Percent) and multi-family completions were at a rate of 149,000 compared to 205,000 a month earlier.

On a regional basis, permitting was down 2.0 percent month-over-month in the Northeast but up 11.4 percent year-over-year.  Housing starts were also down from March by 12.8 percent and up 3.8 percent from April 2012.  Completions in the Northeast were way down, -43.2 percent and -39.0 percent for the two periods.

In the Midwest permits rose 22.3 percent over March and 45.3 percent from April 2012.  Housing starts increased by 10.9 percent and 19.5 percent respectively. The residential completion rate rose 17.0 percent over March and 28.4 percent from a year earlier.

The South had a 16.0 percent monthly increase in permits, 37.4 percent on an annual basis, but housing starts fell 27.9 percent from the previous period and were up only 1.8 percent from a year earlier.  Completions fell 8.3 percent from the previous month but were up 4.6 percent from April 2012.

The West issued permits at a rate 12.9 percent above the March rate and 38.4 percent above a year earlier.  Housing starts were down 6.2 percent from March but increased 43.2 percent from the prior April.  Completions were down 28.4 percent from March, up 6.5 percent from a year earlier.

At the end of the period there were 95,400 permits that had been issued nationwide for which construction had not yet begun.  As has been typical in recent months, over half of those permits were in the South.   Nationwide there were 605,000 units in some stage of construction.